State capitols on America’s East and West Coasts welcomed leaders of the Jewish community last week in nearly back-to-back declarations of support of Chabad-Lubavitch activities.
The legislative activities began in Sacramento on March 23, where the California State Senate, citing the state’s more than 200 Chabad Houses as “the largest network of educational and social services on the West Coast,” declared that Monday to be Chabad Day.
Taking the floor after an invocation by Chabad of the West Coast director Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin, Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg – whose Sixth District includes the state capital – spoke about the concept of tikkun olam, of repairing the world.
The work of Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries throughout the state, he said, stresses the idea of “healing the world through faith, but also through action,” from a drug treatment center “achieving success rates well above the national average” to an annual Telethon.
“You want to know a good cause?” he asked. “Chabad is oftentimes, most often, involved in that cause.”
In his invocation, Cunin asked G‑d to give legislators “the wisdom, give them the passion, give them the proper thought process to be able to bring help, to be able to bring light, to be able to bring warmth … to all those who are so in need.”
After the proceedings, a group of 10 visiting emissaries received a framed copy of the resolution, which the Senate adopted in a unanimous roll call vote.
The day’s activities included a kosher lunch in the capitol’s dining room, as well as the delivery of 700 pounds of matzah to legislators and their staffers in advance of the Passover holiday. According to Rabbi Mendy Cohen, the co-director of Chabad of Sacramento who helped arrange the events, several Jewish lawmakers and staff members donned tefillin during the day’s visits.
Besides for the Senate resolution, the emissaries were also presented with framed copies of similar resolutions introduced by state Sen. Mark Leno and California State Assembly Speaker Karen Bass.
Exactly one day after the California events, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist welcomed a delegation of Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries from Tallahassee to his official residence, where he helped preside over the dedication of a new Torah scroll to the state’s Jewish community.
“The ethical values set forth throughout the Torah provide a guide for all, regardless of our personal religious beliefs,” the governor said. “This occasion is a milestone for the entire Jewish community of Florida.”
Among the guests at the Governor’s Mansion were Rabbi Schneur Oirechman, co-director of Chabad of Tallahassee, where the new scroll will be housed; Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Washington, D.C., director of the American Friends of Lubavitch; state Reps. Adam Hasner and Franklin Sands; and Bernie Offenberg, whose family donated the Torah scroll.
In his proclamation marking March 24 as Torah Dedication Day, Crist called the completion of the Torah scroll a “new era for the Jewish students that attend Florida State University, the Jewish community of Tallahassee, the great State of Florida’s Jewish legislators and the entire Jewish population of the great State of Florida.”
“We have been here for nine years,” Oirechman told the local CBS television affiliate, WCTV. “There’s no better way to begin the 10th year [than] with the dedication of the Torah scroll.”
In Sacramento, Cohen noted that the legislative activity comes just weeks before the anniversary of the birth of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, which since 1978, the U.S. Congress has marked as the national Education and Sharing Day.
“I’m proud of our Senate and its leadership,” stated Cohen. “It was an amazing day that spread a lot of good feelings.”